© Copyright 2013 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Copyright Extracts from Time to Change Website Article. Please do not copy or download images or text.
Link to Time to Change Website Article
What a way to celebrate World Mental Health Day. I was given the most amazing opportunity and was invited to the Terrace Pavillion at the House of Commons to celebrate parliaments work in challenging mental health discrimination with Time to Change and their partners Mind and Rethink. Some of the Time to Change Champions across the country were invited to the event to thank them for their support to the campaign so I feel very privileged to have been given this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Nick Clegg the Deputy Prime Minister, Alastair Campbell and other MPs including Kevan Jones were there. The event was to celebrate the successful work of Time to change and focussed on MPs talking about their own mental health and making a pledge and commitment to giving more support to the mental health and wellbeing of their employees and helping to end discrimination in the workplace. It was also to celebrate the passing of the Mental Health Discrimination No 2 Act 2013 which allows people who have mental health difficulties to be MPs, Company Directors and Jurors.
MPs are beginning to speak out about their own mental health. Many organisations and employers have pledged to address mental health issues.
Below slideshow showing images from event.
Attitudes are slowly changing and it is through the hard work of campaigns like Time to Change, mental health organisations and people who speak out about their own mental health which has helped to make these changes possible. Having the strength and courage to speak out is not easy but it is through people’s individual qualities, through their determination and passion that will help to change attitudes in our society. Just having a conversation with someone goes a long way to help break down the barriers and stereotypes associated with mental health. Through education we can learn to think differently, we can start to understand and empathise and that is when people will begin to change how they perceive mental health. It is important to realise that we all have mental health and we are all unique individuals so this affects our whole society. If mental health effects everyone, our society needs to first recognise this in order to change it. Mental health effects everything in our lives, including our relationships and work, this is why it is fundamental to change society as a whole so we can start to find new creative and innovative ways to help support future generations of people.
Not only do some people who have mental health difficulties face stigma and discrimination in our society but they are also faced with a lack of support, difficulty in accessing services and staff shortages mainly due to severe cuts in mental health budgets. The Government needs to recognise this and take mental health seriously and increase support and funds. We have seen a severe lack of funding in the NHS where there are huge cuts to the budget which was already inadequate for supporting people. I hope that the Government and the NHS will start to realise that Mental Health services are struggling and that the changes which organisations are implementing now will have a huge impact on future generations of people with mental health difficulties.
I am very fortunate to have received the care I needed through the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust recently, it has made a huge difference to my life and I am extremely grateful to the staff who supported me. They were very understanding and compassionate and I can’t thank them enough for the help they gave me.
I met so many lovely people at the event and was slightly nervous but very excited about going to the House of Commons. It was really nice to meet the staff from the campaign including Lizzie Green who is the Project Officer, Social Leadership Team at Time to Change who made me feel really welcome.
I also met Sue Baker who is the Director of Time to Change and it was really good to talk to her about mental health.
Link to Time to Change Article
Quote Extract from Sue Baker, Director taken from Time to Change Article.
‘…we are seeing unprecedented support from many different industries who now see the importance of tackling mental health stigma and discrimination… in the last year and a half, we’ve seen huge improvements in the way that mental health is perceived in Parliament and among the public as a whole…’
I met some really nice Time to Change Champions and we got on so well. It was nice to meet so many friendly people and we had quite a laugh.
The Houses of Parliament are incredible. The architecture is just beautiful and I found it so inspirational to be there. It definitely has the Wow Factor and I have never been anywhere like it in my life, it was quite surreal. There was a lot of security there which is understandable and we had to be searched and scanned before we went in, bit like being at an Airport.
The reception was held in the Pavillion overlooking the Thames and we were served canopies which was really nice.
I got a bit lost trying to find my way out of Parliament, it is so huge and like a maze inside. I managed to buy a souvenir – a little teddy who is quite cute. I was not allowed to take photos in certain areas of the building and after three glasses of wine and getting lost I took a picture of a beautiful ceiling by mistake. A security man came over and I apologised and offered to delete it from my camera but he said it was OK but they would just lock me in the tower which I found quite funny.
I feel so lucky to have been given this amazing opportunity and I had such a fantastic day, met so many lovely people, saw the most amazing architecture and enjoyed every moment of it. To be involved in something so special and important in helping to improve attitudes about mental health is something I will never forget. Thank you Time to Change and special thanks to Oz Osborne Rural Communities Co-ordinator and Sarah James, Eastern Regional Co-ordinator from Time to Change who nominated me.
Below more pictures of the House of Commons. For additional pictures see slideshow near top of article.